A few helpful notes
Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) GUIDE
At GEMS International School Al Khail (GIS), the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program begins from Grade 4. Here is some guidance on which device to purchase. Students are expected to bring their laptop to school, fully charged each day.
Please note that you and your child will need to sign the GIS Acceptable Use Agreement prior to the device being registered to the GIS network. We have secure Wi-Fi coverage throughout the school. In addition, students are taught about digital citizenship and staying safe online.
It is essential that students have a laptop rather than a tablet or iPad because a laptop is a more versatile tool that can do many more things than a tablet. In terms of brands and specifications, you can choose a Windows or Mac laptop.
We highly recommend that you purchase antivirus software and/or Internet Security, which will include anti-malware and other security features. A good example of a frequently used and regularly updated anti-virus program, that you can add to your child’s device for free, is AVAST. You can learn more about this at www.avast.com
Some other recommendations to keep the device secure are:
https://www.malwarebytes.com/ (Please remember to set up scheduled scans once installed)
For BYOD maintenance, to teach your children how to shut down their laptop correctly. They should do this once or twice a week. This ensures the device stays up to date.
Encourage children not to keep their laptops together with their drink bottles.
Consider the accessories - Students need to care for their laptops so it is essential that they have a carry case, laptop bag and/or cover. We also request parents purchase a mouse with the laptop and also a set of robust headphones as students are often working with sound and multimedia projects.
We suggest visiting the various retailers, talking to them about their recommendations, then choose 3 possible laptops and then look up the reviews on the Internet before making your final decision.
Choose a retailer that has a good after sales service. The GIS IT Team can help with minor issues but we recommend taking your machine to the retailer and for any serious issues, as they will have the warranty. Sometimes it is worth paying a little bit more for an extended warranty.
GEMS has an arrangement with Microsoft Office, as a result, families will receive 5 licenses for Microsoft Office 365. The GIS IT Team will be available to give you more information and support about this at the start of the academic year, when your child arrives with their new device.
Mac or Windows - Which device do I buy?
This is a common question asked by many parents and is not a straightforward one to answer.
In our experience, with IT support for children who bring their devices to school, we need to look at the important factors that contribute to our recommendation.
These include but are not limited to…
The weight of the machine
The susceptibility to being hit with viruses
The after sales support one gets when buying a device
The ease of use
The ease of installation of software
Options to consider:
A Mac Book Pro or Mac Book Air Laptop.
Mac Book Airs are lightweight and with a good case can be incredibly durable. Apple machines are also known to be less likely to pick up viruses. Remember that when purchasing a device for your Grade 4+ child, then durability and longevity is an important factor and will prevent you having to replace it so soon. All purchased Apple products come with a free year warranty, with an option to take 2-3 years extra at point of purchase. Using this warranty is as easy as taking your machine to the nearest service center and there is none more convenient that Mall of the Emirates official Apple store just 15 minutes from our school. MacBooks are also user friendly and easy to use. Installing new applications and software is very straightforward and hassle free.
One further recommendation is to ask for the model that incorporates the standard USB slot and NOT the micro USB slot or newer USB-C slots.
Windows Based Laptops.
If you decide to purchase a Windows laptop, it would be highly recommended to buy one of the main brands for example, Samsung, Toshiba, HP, Dell, ASUS etc. Windows 10 is the current industry standard for operating systems, and please ensure the devices are wifi enabled. Ask the salesman that you intend this for an education setting. We also recommend that you go for as much RAM memory as possible, preferably 8 Gigabytes at least is best. The hard drive should be a minimum of 500 Gigabytes as students are often working with media and video (especially in MYP and DP) and this uses a lot of memory. Although performance is a necessity, please do not buy laptops for gaming as they are usually far more expensive and heavy, and therefore not the best suited for an educational environment. Keep an eye out for good deals at shops such as Jumbo, Carrefour, Lulu Hypermarket and Sharif DG etc.
At present we have about a ratio of approximately 70% Windows and 30% Mac in the BYOD program as Windows based PC laptops are inherently less expensive whereas Apple laptops are chosen for their ease of use.
Windows PC Laptop (Dell, Asus, Acer, Lenovo)
Apple MacBook Pro
Apple MacBook Air
Processor: Intel Core ™ i5 or better
Operating System: Windows 10
Memory: Minimum 8GB DDR3 RAM
Hard Drive: 500GB standard HDD or 256GB SSD
Wireless LAN card
Ports, slots & chassis: 2 or more USB 2.0 / 3.0 slots.
Dimensions: 11-15 inch screen
Intel Core i5
13 inch, 2.4 GHz dual core
8GB at 1333MHz
Intel HD Graphics 3000
1.6 GHz dual core Intel Core i5 with 3MB shared L3 cache
8GB 1333MHz RAM
Intel HD Graphics 3000
Please feel free to email the school with any questions, we are happy guide you in the purchase of your child’s device for school.
Director of Technology
Head of Innovation
Head of Design Technology
Mary Jane Gemao